When the members of Heritage, Gilbert, Ariz., looked at the community around their church, they noticed something significant: A good number of their neighbors are Mormon. In fact, within a 5-mile radius of Heritage, there are 19 Mormon meeting houses and a temple.
Rather than shy away from their Mormon neighbors, Heritage made it a part of its mission to share the gospel with them. “We didn’t know of any other Christian churches doing active outreach to the Mormon community, so we thought, Why not us?” says Aaron Bublitz, pastor at Heritage.
But Bublitz knew that before knocking on the doors of their Mormon neighbors, he and his members would benefit from the expertise of Truth in Love Ministry—a WELS-affiliated organization that has been equipping Christians to reach out in love to their Mormon friends and neighbors since 2005.
Truth in Love Ministry was eager to set up an “at-the-door” mission trip campaign in Gilbert, similar to the annual campaign it conducts in Provo, Utah. The outreach efforts in Gilbert included print and social media messaging to those living in the neighborhoods around Heritage, followed up with door-to-door witnessing. Truth in Love Ministry staff provided training and role-playing exercises for those going door to door.
The members of Heritage were thrilled to welcome special partners in their outreach campaign—students studying to become pastors at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. (see sidebar).
After several days of intensive training, Heritage members paired with seminary students and knocked on doors, using a very targeted approach. Instead of simply inviting people to an event at Heritage, the pairs on the doorsteps asked a question: “When you hear the phrase ‘Be ye perfect,’ what does that mean to you?”
Jonathan Leach, president of Truth in Love Ministry, says that this question is based on Matthew 5:48, a familiar passage to Mormons. It addresses a main tenet of Mormonism: the need to obtain perfection on your own merits, apart from Christ. This impossible task leads many Mormons to despair.
“It’s our experience that Mormons haven’t necessarily rejected the gospel,” say Leach. “Most have not heard a full airing of it.” A message of grace was repeatedly shared at the door with anyone expressing despair over their imperfection: Because Jesus is our substitute, we are covered in his perfection. There is nothing we can—or need to—do to earn it.
Those witnessing then pointed to beyeperfect.org, a website specifically designed by Truth in Love Ministry for Mormons that provides biblical resources and targets the teachings Mormons need help unraveling.
Even though Heritage’s goal was simply to share the gospel, not necessarily gain members, God provided the opportunity for further connections. Leach estimates that more than 100 gospel seeds were planted, with close to 50 extended witnessing conversations. Some of those led to follow-up conversations: “I was able to have coffee with an atheist who was so impressed by the seminary student and Heritage member who had knocked at his door that he reached out to me and agreed to meet,” reports Bublitz. He has 30 more non-Mormon prospects to follow up on.
The Gilbert outreach event was not just transformational for those who opened the doors—it forever changed the lives of the seminary students involved. “I have a whole new appreciation for studying the Bible,” says seminarian Micah Otto. “You never know who is going to be behind that door and how much they are thirsting for the message you are carrying. You never know how God is going to use you as a tool to speak to people about his love for them.”
Learn more about Truth in Love Ministry or volunteer for one of its at-the-door mission trips at tilm.org.
Watch Nathan Holz, a student from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, tell more about his experience reaching out in the Gilbert area on this mission trip.
Volume 109, Number 04
Issue: April 2022
- WELS news briefs: June 2023 - 2023/05/31
- WELS podcasts: Small Talk - 2023/05/31
- District news: June 2023 - 2023/05/31